The origins of music

  title={The origins of music},
  author={Anton Killin},
  journal={Music \& Science},
  • A. Killin
  • Published 13 February 2018
  • Sociology
  • Music & Science
Music is a fascinating topic for evolutionary theory, natural philosophy, and narrative construction: music is a highly valued feature of all known living cultures, pervading many aspects of daily life, playing many roles. And music is ancient. The oldest known musical instruments appear in the archaeological record from 40,000 years ago (40 Kya) and from these we can infer even earlier musical artefacts/activities, as yet unrepresented in the archaeological record. I argue that, following… 

Figures from this paper

Sweet Participation: The Evolution of Music as an Interactive Technology

Theories of music evolution rely on our understanding of what music is. Here, I argue that music is best conceptualized as an interactive technology, and propose a coevolutionary framework for its

Music Pluralism, Music Realism, and Music Archaeology

According to pluralism about some concept, there are multiple non-equivalent, legitimate concepts pertaining to the (alleged) ontological category in question. It is an open question whether

From things to thinking: Cognitive archaeology

Cognitive archaeologists infer from material remains to the cognitive features of past societies. We characterize cognitive archaeology in terms of trace-based reasoning, which in the case of

Music and the Evolution of Embodied Cognition

Music is a universal human activity. Its evolution and its value as a cognitive resource are starting to come into focus. This chapter endeavors to give readers a clearer sense of the adaptive

What Can the Lithic Record Tell Us About the Evolution of Hominin Cognition?

This paper examines the inferential framework employed by Palaeolithic cognitive archaeologists, using the work of Wynn and Coolidge as a case study. I begin by distinguishing minimal-capacity

Darwin’s sexual selection hypothesis revisited: Musicality increases sexual attraction in both sexes

A number of theories about the origins of musicality have incorporated biological and social perspectives. Darwin argued that musicality evolved by sexual selection, functioning as a courtship

Attractiveness Ratings for Musicians and Non-musicians: An Evolutionary-Psychology Perspective

The results indicate that the impression of sharing a common interest (making music) and furthermore making music in private instrumental settings seems to make people attractive to other people.

Not by signalling alone: Music's mosaicism undermines the search for a proper function

The role signalling almost certainly played in the evolution of music, and the “ultimate” causal explanations which focus on a unidirectional, narrow range of causal factors are rejected.

Müziğin Kökenine Yönelik Arkeolojik Bir Değerlendirme

Music is a universal and fascinating subject due to its philosophy. Music offers an uninterrupted process of human history and cultures. The origin of music is as old as the history of man. Music



A Million Years of Music: The Emergence of Human Modernity

What is the origin of music? In the last few decades this centuries-old puzzle has been reinvigorated by new archaeological evidence and developments in the fields of cognitive science, linguistics,

New flutes document the earliest musical tradition in southwestern Germany

The discovery of bone and ivory flutes from the early Aurignacian period of southwestern Germany demonstrate the presence of a well-established musical tradition at the time when modern humans colonized Europe, more than 35,000 calendar years ago.

Archaeological Evidence for the Emergence of Language, Symbolism, and Music–An Alternative Multidisciplinary Perspective

In recent years, there has been a tendency to correlate the origin of modern culture and language with that of anatomically modern humans. Here we discuss this correlation in the light of results

Music Archaeology: Some Methodological and Theoretical Considerations

In its broadest sense, music archaeology is the study of the phenomenon of past musical behaviours and sound. This cross-disciplinary discipline comprises a series of approaches, including

The Singing Neanderthals: the Origins of Music, Language, Mind and Body, by Steven Mithen. London: Weidenfeld & Nicholson, 2005. ISBN 0-297-64317-7 hardback £20 & US$25.2; ix+374 pp.

Why are humans musical? Why do people in all cultures sing or play instruments? Why do we appear to have specialized neurological apparatus for hearing and interpreting music as distinct from other

Musical pluralism and the science of music

The scientific investigation of music requires contributions from a diverse array of disciplines (e.g. anthropology, musicology, neuroscience, psychology, music theory, music therapy, sociology,

Evolutionary Musicology Meets Embodied Cognition: Biocultural Coevolution and the Enactive Origins of Human Musicality

The enactive approach to cognition posits a deep continuity between mind and life, where cognitive processes are explored in terms of how self-organizing living systems enact relationships with the environment that are relevant to their survival and well-being.

Rethinking music's status as adaptation versus technology: a niche construction perspective

ABSTRACT In this article I critique F. R. S. Lawson's evolutionary theorising about music that appeared in a recent issue of Ethnomusicology Forum. Moreover, I argue that asking whether music is an

The Emergence of Ornaments and Art: An Archaeological Perspective on the Origins of “Behavioral Modernity”

The earliest known personal ornaments come from the Middle Stone Age of southern Africa, c. 75,000 years ago, and are associated with anatomically modern humans. In Europe, such items are not

The Oxford Handbook of Western Music and Philosophy

  • Art
  • 2020
This Handbook offers an overview of the thriving interdisciplinary field of Western music and philosophy. It seeks to represent this area in all its fullness, including a diverse array of